Commentary — 17 February 2011

Often times here in The Mo’Kelly Report, we discuss the media failings of celebrities, through either bad press releases by publicists, poor crisis management or a disastrous combination of both. There are those times (though infrequent) in which a celebrity (or his/her management) makes the right move and best protects the celebrity and/or the associated brand.

Take Michael Vick for example…

His recent cancellation of a scheduled interview with media mogul Oprah Winfrey was clearly the right move. The only better move would have been not agreeing to the on-air conversation in the first place. Nevertheless, it was by far the best decision Vick has made on or off the field in quite some time.

You will often hear the argument that there is “no such thing as bad publicity” and that would absolutely be untrue. Ask Tiger Woods. Ask “bathroom self-portrait photo takers,” resigning GOP Congressman Christopher Lee and Bishop Eddie Long. Don’t forget Mel Gibson. For different reasons obviously, any publicity which negatively impacts one’s earning power presently and future prospects is bad all the way around. Tiger Woods is not more of an endorsement giant since his private transgressions came to light and seemingly has lost his golf mojo. That’s not even mentioning getting divorced and giving Elin a reported $110 million in the process. Mel Gibson is still persona non grata in Hollywood. And the “bathroom self-portrait photo takers”…we all know it’s been downhill for them in the time since posing as fraternal twins in the mirror.

It’s categorically untrue to allege there’s “no such thing as bad publicity.”

Back to Vick…

In any interview, one has to know the audience to whom he/she would be speaking. Through Oprah, Michael Vick would presumably be speaking to millions of working-class women and stay-at-home mothers. They would be mostly non-African-American and more emotionally attached to the family dog than anyone in the NFL. It is an audience unswayed and indifferent to the news that Vick is the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year or that the Philadelphia Eagles subsequently gave him the “franchise” tag.

Know your audience (both studio and television-viewing).

This interview would center mostly around the dogs, an hour-long minefield of questions and uncomfortable answers surrounding his previous treatment of dogs, which would be met with audience incredulity far and wide.

The rehabilitation of Michael Vick’s image has everything to do with keeping the media focus squarely on his football exploits, not the reasons why he went to prison. Nothing personal against Vick, but a one-on-one conversation with Oprah was a disaster of biblical proportions waiting to happen.

The list of entertainers and politicians who had effectively ended their careers with one interview is too long to mention.  This had “career-ender” written all over it.  There is such a thing as becoming such a social pariah that no amount of athletic exploits can overcome.

Ask Football Hall of Famer O.J. Simpson

It makes perfect sense for Oprah and her television show and would make for great news coverage. From the Harpo Productions point of view, it would be a home run and by all means they should have pursued the conversation. Conversely, all the goodwill accumulated during the previous season by Vick would have spiraled down the drain, with no upcoming Monday Night Football game to help people forget with feats of super-human athleticism.

Many times celebrities get it horribly wrong in how they interact with the media. This time Michael Vick absolutely got it right. It just might have saved the remaining portion of his career.

This time…

The Mo’Kelly Report is an entertainment journal with a political slant; published at The Huffington Post and For more Mo’Kelly, Mr. Mo’Kelly can be reached at

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Morris W. O’Kelly (Mo’Kelly) is a columnist, radio and television commentator. Visit for the latest from Mr. Mo’Kelly. He is heard weekends from 6-8pm on KFI AM640 in Los Angeles. The program is available via the iHeartRadio app and for download on iTunes and all podcasting apps.

Contact Mo’Kelly: @mrmokelly

  • Nicole

    Hi Mo! This is my first time writing in. I’m a football loving white girl & Oprah TiVo-ing girl.
    I am upset that Michael V canceled the O apperance, in my eyes he has turned his life around (and NO Im not an Eagles fan!)
    I’d really like to know the work he has put into changing his life, which he has, in my humble opinion, for the better. He could’ve continued down a bad path but chose to rise up & be a better person. I’m fascinated by that, & would have loved to hear his struggle & his subsequent come back. I think that’s inspirational, for anyone. Good for him, & all of us 🙂

    • Nicole, thank you for chiming in. I respect that you’re open to hearing his story, but I don’t see how in the world Vick could have navigated an hour (or more…they put extra stuff online) with Oprah. No disrespect to Vick, but if you’ve watched him in interviews, he’s not real gregarious or personable; very much uncomfortable. He is definitely a fish out of water…and to continue the metaphor would be in the frying pan.

      This is not a venue in which Vick stands to succeed or do well. Interviews generally are not his strong suit and to spend an hour talking about his transgressions is only a recipe for certain disaster. Too much risk and not any real reward.

  • onemom

    Mo, I definitely agree with you. I wonder though if he would have truly gotten a fair interview with Oprah especially since her beloved dog died. Would that create animosity for her? Also what would fill the rest of the time? Animal activists?

  • trixetrudyteresa

    I think Vick has paid his debt for his offense. He should focus on his profession. He does have some ground to make up. We don’t need to sensationalize, hear details, make him grovel any longer.
    I respect O. She’d do him justice w/ compasion and point out he paid his debt – but he’d grovel first – under her “ummm” look.
    It would not benefit Vick. His fan base and NFL world forgive, this would be juice for housewives. His best bet is to keep silent, excel in football and move FW. Actions > Words.

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Michael Vick Saves Career in Canceling Oprah Interview | The Mo'Kelly Report --

  • concussions, injuries, post career finances.
    fitness routine, what he has to discourage dog fighting,prison life, teammates fans, endorsements. plenty of topis, should college athletes
    be allowed to earn money. Lots to talk about.

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